UK ratifies treaty tackling violence and harassment at work

March 15, 2022

The UK Government has strengthened its efforts to end violence and harassment in the workplace, becoming the 11th country to ratify the International Labour Organization’s Violence and Harassment Convention.

This is the first international treaty to recognise everyone’s right to a workplace free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.

The treaty, deposited in person to the ILO in Geneva by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey, is a first-of-its-kind global common framework for action to eradicate workplace violence and harassment – which the UK played a leading role in developing over two years of negotiations.

New duty on employers

The UK already has a robust legal framework in place consisting of both civil and criminal laws and health and safety law. In plans to go further, the Government will introduce a new duty on employers, requiring them to take steps to prevent their employees from experiencing sexual harassment and introduce explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, such as customers and clients.

The Government suggests that these measures will not only strengthen protections for those affected by harassment at work but will also motivate employers to make improvements to workplace practices and culture. The UK Government is supporting the Equality and Human Rights Commission to create a statutory Code of Practice on sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace and producing guidance for employers on how they can take effective action to protect those at risk.

Work and Pensions Secretary of State, Thérèse Coffey, said: “We already have some of the strongest laws in the world to protect employees and ratifying this convention takes us one step further to eradicating violence and harassment in the workplace.

“I hope that by the UK and others taking this step, our international friends will join us in ratifying this convention and demonstrate their commitment to upholding these values.

“This government is committed to tackling all forms of violence and harassment and we will support employers to put the necessary measures in place to ensure everyone feels safe in their place of work.”

Safeguarding Minister Rachel Maclean said: “The safety of everyone in our country, wherever they are, is our priority. No one should have to be in fear of violence in any space, including in their place of work.

“By ratifying this convention, we are taking another step to eradicating violence of all forms and ensuring everyone is able to flourish without fear in their workplace.”

After completing consultations across government, with the devolved administrations, and with social partners, the Confederation of British Industry and Trades Union Congress, government’s ratification of this Convention is now complete. The United Kingdom joins countries including Argentina, Ecuador, Fiji, Namibia, Somalia and Uruguay.

On 7 March the government completed the ratification for the International Labour Organisation Violence and Harassment Convention by depositing the UK’s Instrument of Ratification at the ILO in Geneva.

The Convention will come into force 12 months from 7 March, the date the Instrument of Ratification is deposited with the International Labour Organisation.


This is valid as of 15th March 2022.

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